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[Photo: Carey Jones]

When I asked a Santa Fe-native friend what to eat in New Mexico, his response was immediate and unequivocal: "Tia Sophia's breakfast burrito with egg inside, smothered in green or green and red. This is perhaps my favorite food in the world. Don't miss this." With a recommendation like that, how could I? If there were ever a morning-after stomach-soother, this would be it.

You couldn't imagine a friendlier place for a meal; on my visit, the husband-and-wife team who run the show greeted every customer and rung up every bill. (We waited 15 minutes for a table, and at least half a dozen of the customers waiting with us seemed to be longtime friends.) Coffee arrives quickly, the menu's straightforward, and everything's ample and cheap.

Breakfast in New Mexico (and, for that matter, lunch and dinner at plenty of spots in New Mexico) tends to rely on some combination of tortillas (if not flour, often blue corn), beans, cheese, chopped-up meat, and either red or green chile; menus may look similar, but everyone's variation on chile is a little bit different. Here, the breakfast burrito covered the better part of an oversized plate, and came stuffed with shredded potato, scrambled eggs if you want 'em, and either ham, sausage, or bacon. All that is then smothered with chile (green, red, or both) and cheese.

While it's wrapped up neatly, the real way to approach this thing is to cut in with gusto, letting everything fall apart into the lake of green chile swirled with oozing molten cheese. That chile is excellent, somewhere in this weird zone of spicy and not spicy—hot on the first bite, until you grow accustomed to it a few bites in, only to find your whole mouth tingling a few minutes later. Soaking into fresh flour tortillas and potatoes, it's soul-satisfying and hard to stop eating, flavoring every bite. I couldn't get through mine, but the waiter didn't seem surprised; he took my "Good God, I'm full" look as a sign to clear the plate, not pretending he thought I'd finish.

My only regret is that I didn't get to try more of the menu at Tia Sophia's. They only serve the chorizo burrito on Saturdays, and only serve stuffed sopaipillas after 11am. I might have to come back for both.

Tia Sophia's

210 West San Francisco Street, Santa Fe NM 87501 (map)
505-983-9880

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